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Systematic discovery of nonobvious human disease models through orthologous phenotypes.

Authors:
McGary KL, Park TJ, Woods JO, Cha HJ, Wallingford JB, Marcotte EM
Affiliation:
Journal:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Abstract

Biologists have long used model organisms to study human diseases, particularly when the model bears a close resemblance to the disease. We present a method that quantitatively and systematically identifies nonobvious equivalences between mutant phenotypes in different species, based on overlapping sets of orthologous genes from human, mouse, yeast, worm, and plant (212,542 gene-phenotype associations). These orthologous phenotypes, or phenologs, predict unique genes associated with diseases. Our method suggests a yeast model for angiogenesis defects, a worm model for breast cancer, mouse models of autism, and a plant model for the neural crest defects associated with Waardenburg syndrome, among others. Using these models, we show that SOX13 regulates angiogenesis, and that SEC23IP is a likely Waardenburg gene. Phenologs reveal functionally coherent, evolutionarily conserved gene networks-many predating the plant-animal divergence-capable of identifying candidate disease genes.

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